Day 30: Top Timaru Hut to the Ahuriri River

After a rare night of almost uninterrupted sleep, I still felt ready for a day off! This morning I hobbled around the hut like it was still my first week of the trail. My left knee is unhappy about a particular mudslide that happened yesterday, where my right foot went shooting forward down the bank and my left foot caught underneath me, jarring my knee. It wasn’t bad at the time, but I’ve felt it today.

I left the hut today with my two buddies, Michael and James, and they quickly pushed ahead of me up the climb to Martha’s Saddle. They were there waiting for me at the top, though, and graciously lied that it had only been a few minutes.

A misty rainbow at the saddle.

We stuck together today because we knew we had the largest unbridged river crossing of the journey coming up. After a descent from the saddle and 15km of pleasant, flat, open country walking, we reached the river.

Putting our river crossing skills into action, we loosened our pack straps and threaded our arms in between each others backs and packs, grabbing on to the hip belts on the other side. In a row, we slowly moved together across the river. It was braided in two sections. The first was relatively easy, and we reached the island within a few minutes, and walked along it to find the best place to cross the second half, which was wider and more powerful. We eventually picked a spot that looked a bit shallower, and began again. This crossing was much more difficult and for few minutes in the middle all we could do was inch forward, one called-out step at a time, and the water powered past us at hip-height. We were steady though, and eventually we made it to the other side, a little tired but with a huge sense of accomplishment.

The Ahuriri River: no match for a trio of kiwis with river crossing skills!

I’m grateful that I walked in a group today. If I had been alone, there would have been no way to cross the river and I would have had to make the 10km detour to a bridge downstream.

We continued walking for a few kilometres after crossing the river and pitched our tents near a small stream. Coming up tomorrow is another long day – more sidling next to another river, and another big climb. This has been a tough week, and it’s only the middle!

Our valley village.

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